Though both middle and high school students at Detroit Lakes Public Schools have already experienced a combination of in-person and remote learning this year, as of this Monday, Oct. 19, that "hybrid" learning model has now been applied for students and teachers at all four K-12 academic buildings in the district, due to the rising number of active coronavirus cases in Becker County.
District Superintendent Mark Jenson said at Monday night's school board meeting that the hybrid model would be maintained at all four sites for the next two weeks, after which their status with regard to active COVID-19 cases would be re-evaluated.
Also at Monday night's meeting, Jenson updated the board on the district's current K-12 enrollment numbers, which are down a total of 222 students from this time last year, at 2,764. While this enrollment decline will undoubtedly have an impact on school finances if it continues, Jenson said the Minnesota Legislature is contemplating the possibility of offering some sort of aid to districts whose enrollment has fallen due to the pandemic.
"We're not the only district facing this issue," he said. "Hopefully we will get some sort of help from the state."
Speaking of finances, District Business Manager Ryan Tangen reported that the district's current cash balance "remains strong" as of the end of September.
In other business, Brian Berg and Dan Kleist — who are serving as lead architect and construction manager, respectively, for the district's $60 million construction and renovation project — updated the board on the status of construction throughout the district, which includes projects at both elementary buildings as well as the middle and high school.
Construction has mostly wrapped up at Rossman Elementary, Kleist noted, with only a few minor items still to be completed. At Roosevelt Elementary, the project is roughly 60-70% complete, with most of the remaining projects slated for completion by next spring, he added.
Construction at the middle school is mostly complete as well, with only the new commons and reconfigured stairwell still unfinished. The bulk of the work still to be completed is slated for next summer, Kleist said.
"Things have been really busy there," Kleist said, noting that work on the 9th grade classroom addition will continue throughout the school year, with the bulk of the work on the new commons and large gymnasium to be completed next summer and fall.
Berg reported that the budget for the project is on track, with change orders accounting for only about .5 % of the cost so far.
"We still have about $260,000 in contingency (funding) left)," he said.